Cybernet-curtain-twitching: Europe’s latest pastime courtesy of Europol
Rob Wainwright, director of Europol and once a leading figure in SOCA, has “briefed a Lords EU sub-committee on plans for a European cyber crime centre.”
It could operate along similar lines to America’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a joint venture between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Centre, which for the past 10 years has allowed victims of cyber crime to make a complaint online.
BBC: EU could turn to ‘crowd sourcing’ in cyber crime fight
But it is likely to go much further:
Europol strategic analyst Victoria Baines later explained to BBC News that the organisation was interested in eventually using a form of “crowd sourcing” to gather examples of suspected cyber crime so it could build up a fuller picture of illegal activity.
This would involve concerned net users scouring the net for possible examples of crime and reporting it, possibly through a dedicated website.
This scares me more than I can say. The idea that a million anoraks with a computer but no life will start a new pastime of cybernet-curtain-twitching is a little scary. Reporting a crime perpetrated against you is one thing; reporting an acquaintance who appears to be sending you pornographic material is something else. If security experts have difficulty tracking down the genuine criminals on the internet, how on earth will Joe Bloggs succeed? What will Europol’s software – you know, the stuff that seeks to find links and connections – make of a couple of false accusations, a subscription to Freeview’s adult channels, and a phone call to a friend who is the friend of someone under different surveillance, come up with?
We’ve had crowd sourcing before. The crowd was the FBI – and look what a mess the UK police made of Operation Ore:
New evidence I have gathered for my work as an expert witness in defence cases shows that thousands of cases under Operation Ore have been built on the shakiest of foundations – the use of credit card details to sign up for pornography websites. In many cases, the card details were stolen; the sites contained nothing or legal material only; and the people who allegedly signed up to visit the sites never went there.
Duncan Campbell, Guardian: Operation Ore flawed by fraud
I really hope that Mr Wainwright does not get his way in this. Crowd sourcing is no replacement for old-fashioned policing and genuine evidence. And, frankly, I don’t want to live in this Stasi-inspired shop-your-neighbour Orwellian society SOCA and Europol seem to want for us.